Once there lived four Brahmins, in a certain town. They were good friends and always lived together. As they were naive Brahmins, so they decided to study hard and gain knowledge. After which they would be able to earn money by using their knowledge. It was decided that they would go to a different town to gain knowledge.
As decided they all started travel to a new town. When they reached the new town, they joined a saint to study further and acquire knowledge. They studied hard for twelve years and acquired knowledge. They learned in many fields of knowledge and mastered in that fields.
One day, they discussed, “Dears, now we have acquired sufficient knowledge in many fields of sciences. So it is the right time to start to earn money by using our knowledge. Let us ask our teacher’s permission to leave this place.” As decided they reached their teacher and asked for permission to them to leave that place. Their Guru gave them permission and blessed them for success.
They started their journey with all the holy books (shastras) they have with them. After travelling for some time they came across an intersection point, where the path was divided into two different directions. They began to think which path they should select to go further.
At the same time, a merchant’s son had died in a nearby town. While they stood in the path considering which path was right, a huge funeral procession came across them. The procession ha several people and they all were going to the cremation ground.
Conferring the scriptures of the shastras, one of the Brahmins said, “The right path which we have to follow is the path taken by these great men.” They all agreed with him and thus they decided to take the same path as that of the funeral procession. After some time the people reached the cremation place and then they all stopped there. They started the funeral proceedings further. Then they started discussing what course of action they should take next.
While they all were discussing they saw a donkey nearby. Consulting the scriptures of the shastras, a Brahmin said, “Dears, a true friend is one who stands beside you on all occasions. Be the occasion jolly or sad does not matter.”
Thus they decided to accept the donkey as their true friend. They washed his hoofs with water first and then hug the donkey and kissed him.
At the very same time, they saw a camel coming towards them from a long distance. Immediately by consulting their scriptures of the shastras, one of the Brahmins said, “virtues walk rapidly.” And then they agreed that the camel which coming towards them must be virtue in the flesh and nothing else.
At the same time another Brahmin on consulting his scriptures, said, “A good friend should always lead his friend to path of virtue.”
Thus they immediately stopped the camel and introduced it with the donkey. So they tied the donkey with the camel in order to lead their friend to path of virtue. Then the camel started dragging the donkey, while continuing his journey.
At the same time the donkey’s master who was a washerman saw the four Brahmins tied his donkey to the camel. He got very angry by seeing this and then chased them with a stick. On being chased, the four Brahmins ran way for their lives and they reached a river. As they reached the river they saw that a leaf of holy tree was floating on the water of the river.
Immediately one of the Brahmins said, "Holiness carries one across the river of life!" and then he jumped into the river on the holy leaf to cross the river. But he was unable to swim and then immediately began to drown.
When another Brahmins saw him being dragged away by the river, he jumped into the river to save him. He caught him by the neck but the flow of the currents were very strong, so he was not able to bring his friend to the bank of the river. At the same time he immediately began to think and remembered that, “When a intelligent man knows that he could not succeed in his work while completing the whole at the same time, he would sacrifice half and then work with the rest.”
Then he immediately took out his sword and cut his friend into two parts. Then he drag him to the bank of the river but at that time he had already died. When they came to know that they lost his friend they regretted for that and then the remaining three Brahmins continued their journey.
After sometime they reached a village. As the villagers saw them they welcomed them in a very friendly manner and offered them place to stay. Then the villagers decided that three different families will serve them food to eat.
One of the Brahmins was served with sweet food. He thought, “Long tactics will surely take a man to destruction!" Thus he refused to eat the food and remained hungry throughout the night.
Another Brahmin was served with a bowl foamy soup. He began to think that he learned from the scriptures, “Whatever is foamy and distended does not stay for long time.” So he refused to eat and remained hungry all over the night, too.
The third family serves the Brahmin a tasty food with a hole in the middle. He began to think, “Defects are an impending sign of approaching danger!" Thus he refused to eat the food and remained hungry all over the night, too.
In the morning when the villagers came to know that they did not have the dinner served for them, they laughed at them and mocked them.
The Brahmins got very angry and they decided to leave the village. As they began to start their journey, the villagers went with them up to a long distance. They all mocking and laughing at them all the time on their journey.
The wise indeed say:
Empty knowledge brings ridicule.